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Doing the Girl Thing

I have two impressive clients, one a lawyer and one a doctor. They are highly accomplished in their fields.

On the same day, each separately asked me the same question at one point during the session:

“Am I doing the girl thing?”

And I knew exactly what they meant. But, being a coach, my job is to ask more than answer and so I asked what they meant. Here’s what they said, more or less:

“You know, that thing where I have an idea, then totally kill it, or think that what I’m offering isn’t good enough, even though it’s more than enough. Or when I have success in something after working hard, then put myself down. You know, the girl thing.”

I do know. The girl thing.

In fact, yesterday I was sharing this very story with a friend. She just received a big promotion at work, and closed a new deal faster than any one ever has in the history of the 30-year company.

Then, she explained away her success as luck, not really a big deal, a long time coming, etc. As soon as she did it she realized, “Oh my god! I just did the girl thing!”

Yup. So I asked her what she could say instead. She came up with:

“Thank you! It’s a great client — I’m excited to start working with them.”

Perfect.

But the unspoken “girl thing” that too many of us understand is no longer working for me. And, as the mother of a daughter, it’s really not working for me. I want the same opportunities and possibilities for all my children, no matter the gender. Not 79 cents on the dollar for my “less valuable” daughter. I don’t want to see the world teach limitations into her core, as it has for me and my clients.

I want my 2-year-old daughter, who is pretty badass already, to not recognize “doing the girl thing” as what my doctor, lawyer, and business friend and I recognize too easily. Putting yourself down. Making excuses for your success. Apologizing for your creative ideas. Hearing yourself “you can’t” before you say “I can”.

Let’s redefine what “doing the girl thing” means. What if doing the girl thing meant that girls:

Celebrate, like Brandi Chastain

Lead, like Golda Meir

Act, like Margaret Thatcher

Help others, like Ina May Gaskin

Are Brave, like Malala

Are Strong, like the Williams Sisters

Create Justice, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Do What’s Right, like Eleanor Roosevelt

Blaze A New Path, like Hillary Clinton

Are Entrepreneurial, like Martha Stewart

Guide Others, like Harriet Tubman

Stands up for Your Rights, like Susan B Anthony

Care for Animals, like Jane Goodall

Teach, like Julia Child

Manage Money, like Janet Yellen

Rock, like Joan Jett

While writing this post, I got a call from a client who set a lofty goal for herself 3 months ago. Today, the dream became reality. She called to tell me about the interview that lead to the offer, and started by saying: “I’m not going to lie, and I hope this doesn’t appear arrogant, but I did a GREAT job. I knew I had it and I did. I could tell during our conversation. I just nailed it.”

When I asked her what she did in the interview that was so special, she said, “You know what? I just said what I believed and I acted like myself. I was totally honest. And it worked!”

That’s the 2016 version of doing the girl thing. Just finding that thing you’re great at and doing it. Being honestly and authentically you.

C’mon Get Happy

The old Partridge Family song takes me back. I’m a kid again, dancing around on a shaggy blue carpet. Nursing a serious crush on David Cassidy. No responsibilities. Little to no power either, but it’s the singing and dancing that I remember. And the feeling of being happy.

Segue to today: I’ve been reading a particularly fabulous book, recommended by one of my clients, called The Sweet Spot, by Christine Carter.

It focuses on that whole overwork / work life balance thing. (You know, what I do for a living :-)). Though it may seem like well trodden terrain, she offers solutions for getting your life back, enjoying it, thriving at work and  having a short fitness routine that will get you in solid shape.

One thing I’ve started doing is using this free app called Happier. If you bob and weave through the solicitations (not that hard to do), you’re able to use it to record something every day that makes you happy. It automatically pulls up your pictures and prompts you with your own visual memories — just in case you forgot how fantastic that trip to the garden with your daughter was.

Minimal investment, maximum happy.

Minimal investment, maximal bliss.

I like doing this daily; it’s a quick passage to emotion (like the kind I get when I look at the old David Cassidy pictures), which encourages the building of neural pathways of joy. It reminds me to sit in that moment – an take a deep tub soak of positive emotion. There’s ample research to demonstrate the impact of regular positive thinking, gratitude and connecting with emotions.

Plus, after a few weeks, I have this incredible flip book of happy moments – the moments that seem inconsequential at the time, but are the tapestry of your life. So record your happy once a day, or once in the morning and once at night. However you choose to remember your happy, the benefits are clear.

As a wise man once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” And when you stop to capture those seemingly insignificant, powerful and joyful moments, you’ll be able to marvel at your own incredible life.

How To Stand Up for Yourself (Video)

This week, one of my personal coaching clients had a fantastic realization, one of those moments that will stay with her for a good long time, and change the way she interacts with the world. In the coaching biz, we call this an A-HA moment.

She found herself in a situation where it seemed like all of her advisors were taking advantage of her kind, goodhearted ways. Simply put: she felt like a doormat.

During our coaching session, we came up with a simple activity that helped her map her values to the way she wanted to be — exactly how she wanted to stand up for herself — and avoid being too aggressive or being walked on.

Here’s how we did it:

 

The A-HA Minutes is a YouTube video series created by Allison Task, personal coach, highlighting moments of client insight in Allison’s coaching practice.

5 Coaching Questions To Celebrate Closure

One of my favorite aspects of coaching is that closure is built into the relationship from the start. As adults, closure isn’t build into our lives as frequently as was when we were children.

Think of activities or projects you’ve experienced with premeditated closure: there’s college, summer camp or high school. But as adults, closure is elusive. You rarely start a job or a relationship with the end in mind. We acquire, achieve, and gain…but reducing, rewarding and appreciating, the yins to our accomplishment yangs, are given less attention.

You Never Start a Relationship or Job Planning the Dissolution

Imagine, on the first date, summing up your dinner partner and issuing the following proposal: “I think this will last about 6 months, so let’s figure out how to have a GREAT time during our brief affair. I’m thinking Vieques, Rio, and some outdoor sex? I need a date for this benefit in April…and let’s avoid meeting parents, because…well, with closure just 6 months away, why add the stress.”

relationship coach

Finite and Fun

In some ways, that could be great.

It’s refreshing to keep the end game in mind, and the things you need to do to get there. A short term bucket list if you will. My clients decide what they we going to do in the next 3 months, and then go for it. Some of my recent clients have had the following goals: Address my financial challenges. Find more time in my schedule. Clean out the house chaos so I can move forward in comfort.

These goals were set in December, and here we are in March, with goals accomplished. And, as inevitably happens with coaching, in order to get to the big goals, first we dig underneath and clear out the bigger stuff that’s been blocking us in the first place.

My clients get it done. Week by week, item by item, with great enthusiasm, vigor, passion for achieving the goal, and ultimately, closure.

There’s something particularly wonderful about the last sessions, when clients get to review what they’ve accomplished in the last few months, and how, those goals that felt big and unattainable have come to pass.

Care to try it? You can always give me a call and work together on something big and hairy (we’ll break down that big monster into little fur balls).

Or, you can get the closure celebration you need right now. Here are some coaching questions that will take you there. Give yourself the space to answer — find a quiet room with a laptop or paper and pen. Take 20 minutes, minimum. The more you write, the deeper your satisfaction will be.

5 Coaching Questions To Celebrate Closure

– Remember March, 2015? What were you doing?  What are you doing now that would surprise you? Have you handled illness, moved, changed jobs or achieved a promotion? Managed children / parents? Taken on a new sport, instrument, built a garden?

– Looking back on last summer, what are you proud of? Vacations? Health goals? Making new friends or spending time with old friends?

– Is there a positive habit that you’ve developed since January? Eating less sugar, drinking less, going to bed earlier? Spending more time with family?

– Is there something that you’d like to do this spring / summer? Visit a local farm?  Join a co-op? Pickle vegetables? Host an Easter or Passover get together?

– Is there someone near you that you’re jealous of? What is it, specifically that makes you jealous? Is there anyway that you could add some of those qualities / situations to your own life?

The first three questions are helpful for looking backwards, taking stock, and giving yourself the opportunity to acknowledge an accomplishment. The last two questions will help you set goals for the future so that you can move toward a goal purposefully.

Set goals, and most importantly, celebrate your accomplishments. Not just turning 40, but what you did in the prior years leading to this point. What are you proud of that you — badass you — accomplished?

Reflecting and acknowledging your accomplishments reinforced them in your brain, and leads to more of the same.

Please let me know how this works for you!

What’s A Life Coach? (Video)

Part of the fun of working with a life coach is picking a partner who you connect with. After all, we’ll be working together closely on something that’s of absolute importance to you.

You may be wondering:

  • How is a life coach different from a therapist?
  • Are my questions that insightful?
  • What is it like to work together — am I upbeat? Is this fun?
  • Do I have an annoying Jersey accent?
  • What’s the point of a coach, really?

Here’s a little sample of me in my office answering the question “What is a Life Coach”. We’ll meet here in my office, or virtually via Skype or phone.My role is to be your advocate as you go for this big goal — something you’ve been working on and wanting to achieve.

We’re about to get to know each other really well.

So here’s what I’m like. As you can see, I’m pretty fired up about what I do.

The Best Question a Life Coach Can Ask

The Best Question a Life Coach Can Ask

What would thriving look like?

As a coach, I listen and ask questions (in that order).

Here’s how I know I’ve asked the right question: you stop your flow. You’ll look up or down; you look away. If we’re talking on the phone, there’s a longer than normal pause.

And that’s my goal – to help you step away from, and get perspective with your own thoughts. You’re here, talking to me, because there’s a question that’s tugging at you. Making your brain circle, get fatigued, and not focus on answering the problem, but focusing on the problem itself. We want to move toward the solution, not sit in the problem.

There is one question that is incredibly effective, and I know this from being on the receiving end. This is the question my coach asked me in our first session that made me stop and re-frame my focus.

Ready for it?

Really ready?

It’s pretty simple, actually. Here it is:

My coach asked me, “What would thriving look like?” 

That’s it. Five words. And it probably doesn’t read like much on the screen, so say it out loud.

What would thriving look like?

Here’s why this is the best question a coach can ask. Let’s parse it out bit by bit:

  • “…thriving…”. You know what thriving means. It’s a plant in full bloom. A kid who loves to play sports running on the field. A dog chasing a ball. Thriving. You have an image of this, and there’s momentum to it. We’re not talking about “success”, “doing well” or “happiness” – these words are loaded and complex. Thriving. It’s an active straightforward word.
  • “What would…” This question invites a possibility. Woulds and coulds are possibility words. Nothing committal. And nothing judgmental like their arch-nemesis, “should”. (More on that damaging word later.) It’s the ultimate set up for a hypothetical question, inviting you to brainstorm, allowing you to imagine the possibility of something. No commitment. Just dream.
  • “…look like?” Instead of asking that thriving “is” – is is a static word, (just ask Bill Clinton), I’m asking you to literally describe what it might look like. You want to lose weight? Tell me what you want to wear, and where you want to go when you hit your goal. Now let’s make that happen.

Or, you want to love motherhood?

OK. Are you lying on a hammock with your baby? Or are you reading a book while the baby is napping and you get a break? You want a happy marriage? What does thriving look like? Is that snuggling in bed watching Steven Colbert or is it climbing Kiliminjaro together?

When I ask you to picture the end state, that helps you to imagine it. And a picture of your future is worth a lot more than 1,000 words. Once you have that delicious image in your mind; you’ve got a great motivation for creating, and implementing a plan to make it happen.

That, my friend, is the essence of coaching: listening to you and asking really good questions that help you answer your own questions.

So, the next time you find yourself going around on a problem, ask yourself, “What would thriving look like?” Or better yet, ask the question of a good friend or partner if you see them spinning. Stop. Listen. And help them go for it. Look them in the eyes and ask, “What would thriving look like?”

Then have a good look at the picture that is painted for you.